Several weeks ago, I was contacted by an insurance company. They wanted to schedule an interview for a customer service and sales position that included speaking Spanish. I had actually applied to that company not long after I arrived in Chicago. Back then, I was looking to become established as a freelance language professional. Since the workflow wasn’t steady yet, I had to seek a side job to support myself.
At present, I’m 100% committed to my career, so I wrote the company back to politely decline their offer. Still, I let them know that we could explore other ways of collaborating together if needed. After all, I have a solid background in customer service and sales, and I could use my experience on a consulting basis, along with my language skills, to help improve communication with LEP customers.
In fact, I took a look at the company’s website and detected several typos and inconsistencies in the Spanish-language content, so I wrote an email like this:
Good afternoon Jane,
Thank you for reaching out to me.
The truth is that I’m currently working full-time as a freelance language professional. My services include translating, interpretation, editing, writing, transcribing, and reviewing content, mostly from English into Spanish. I’m certified as a translator in that language pair by the American Translators Association.
Since 2004, I’ve been managing translation projects for companies in sectors as diverse as arts, banking, education, gastronomy, healthcare, law, marketing, and technology. I’m passionate about bridging language barriers and improving the flow of communication.
Although your company already has a version of its website in Spanish, I’ve noticed several typos. For instance:
Except for the first letter, or proper nouns, titles are never capitalized in Spanish. The pronoun “ti” is never accented in Spanish. When translated into other languages, I find that excellent marketing often requires transcreation. This term refers to the process of adapting a message from a language to another without being too literal and yet maintaining its intent, style, tone, and context.
Therefore, I’d like to discuss a potential collaboration as a translator, editor, and/or reviewer instead. I believe that you can benefit greatly from my language services to provide your Spanish-speaking customers with high-quality communication and attract new prospects.
My experience includes assisting Banco Sabadell, one of Spain’s top banks, in its strategy of internationalization from 2009 through 2015. My language services helped to provide excellent customer service (notably on digital media) through several mergers, in which four domestic, two British and two American banks were acquired. During those years, Banco Sabadell’s net attributable profit went from €522.5M to €708.4M.
I feel that this could be a great opportunity. Certainly, I’d be happy to consult for you or work on a contract basis. Besides banking products, the years that I worked for the aforementioned bank also provided me with vast knowledge of insurance options. My interpretation services often deal with insurance claims as well.
If you have a moment to chat about your need for a professional translator, I’ll be happy to start a conversation with you.
The answer left me speechless for the wrong reasons. Jane told me the following:
Thanks for the feedback, but that is not my department. I’m only interviewing and hiring for our Chicago office. If correcting the marketing flyers is what you want to do professionally, I can’t help you with that as they only exist at our headquarters in another city. Our office needs bilingual Spanish speakers for enrollments. If you’re interested, let me know, and I will get you scheduled to start the interviewing process.
I look forward to your response soon.
Somebody needs to tell Jane that she could have forwarded my email/proposal to the appropriate person/department within the company. Or she could have provided me with the contact of that person/department.
Instead, Jane makes a rookie mistake: she’s telling me that she can’t help me. Who wants to work with a company that literally says, “I can’t help you”? One of the golden rules in customer service is that one never tells a customer, “that’s not within my scope,” or “I only do this.” If you don’t have the solution for customers, guide them towards the path that will take them there. Jane must learn that a company is only as good as its customer service.
When I initially applied to work with this company, I never got a single email saying, “Thank you. We’ll get back to you as soon as possible.” In my experience, when a company goes silent without even acknowledging you applied with them and suddenly pops up months later with a list of available dates for an interview, that company doesn’t seem to respect its prospective employees. Imagine how they treat their own workers!
I have to say that I wasn’t surprised by Jane’s answer. I already knew that her main task was recruiting customer service representatives and/or sales agents. Even so, I hoped she would have a broader vision. I offered the company the possibility of improving its Spanish-language content. They clearly need it. You can’t have content with typos if you want to thrive!
Nonetheless, Jane insists on scheduling an interview for a position that doesn’t match my goals. She didn’t even read my email: when did I mention marketing flyers? She doesn’t seem to care about the image the company might be projecting. Who wants to work at a company in which people only care about themselves? There’s obviously a big disconnect between some departments in that company. There’s no team mentality, which is never a good idea. United we stand, divided we fall.
My proposal sought to enrich the company as a whole. I thought Jane would want the best interest of the company she works at. However, she only wants to get her job done as a recruiter. As a representative of the company, Jane shows a lack of altitude. To this day, the company’s website hasn’t corrected the typos that I had detected.
I learned a powerful lesson here. If a company doesn’t value your talents, they don’t deserve you.